Okay. Now my transplantation is officially getting quite hard. Lovely as it is in western Victoria, I have to admit that doing without blanket coverage of Wimbledon is tough. I can go cold turkey on the Tate and Paris can wait, at least for a year or two. But Wimbledon? I'm sorry, I've broken down completely. Below is our local tennis court. I think you'll agree it doesn't quite have the atmosphere of SW19.
What I wouldn't give for a plastic jar of warm Pimms and an outrageously priced punnet of limp, sour strawberries in a congealed mass of non-specific dairy substance right about now. As the evening closes in and I gaze out upon the alarming behaviour of the farm's chickens, who are incidentally what might have resulted if Fassbinder had cast Chicken Run, I can only draw on the memory of past balmy afternoons spent reclining on the sofa at House of Pants scrutinising Roger Federer's face for a flicker of expression.
Being there is even better, not least of all because you're too far away from Roger Federer to see his face clearly. For years I had a pact with a tennis playing friend to enter the public draw. If one of us scored tickets, we'd take the other. We managed this roughly every other year. Unless you own a telecommunications company or a home county, the only way to get into Wimbledon is by lottery or joining the queue, the end of which you locate somewhere in Brittany but it miraculously deposits you under the magic ivy before play begins. I've done that a few times as well. A bagful of ham and cheese baguettes and a flask of Fair Trade coffee and, if you're lucky, only six hours of relative darkness and the time flits by as you get to know the several thousand people on either side of you intimately.
Wimbledon is a little time bubble encapsulating what England must have been like in the 1930s. It's all straw boaters, candy stripes and people being jolly decent to each other. You don't generally get that anywhere else in London, at least not anywhere the hoi-polloi are permitted to assemble for any length of time. Given that watching tennis for eight hours requires epic concentration and no small amount of patience, especially if Roger Federer is involved, grizzling kiddies are mercifully thin on the ground. By London standards, that makes it an oasis of epic proportions.
I know that for about a tenner I could sign up to get the whole thing streamed to the farm's vile AppleMac but I can't see that sitting on a secretarial chair in front of the gas fire with an Afghan rug over my knees in the middle of the night is going to satisfy my need for the authentic Wimbledon experience somehow. I don't know that I'll ever learn to love watching world-class tennis on anything but grass. The huge fuss made over protecting the courts is one of the highlights of Wimbledon. There have been years when the covers going on and off has been the most exciting thing about the tournament. How do they maintain Rebound Ace - hoover it? Who wants to watch that?
The chickens have all gone off to bed after an exhausting day of failing to implement the latest conflict management techniques. At least they've produced an interesting combination of coloured eggs. I'm not sure I've seen an olive green egg before. I hope it's not anything to do with the leftover asparagus rolls from last Sunday's post tennis lunch I gave them. Like the Wombles of Wimbledon Common, they are left to their own devices to wander where they choose so they could be eating anything. Oh Lord, I just had a thought, I hope they haven't devoured my souvenir Wimbledon balls...